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Fox versus Crosby

Diane Trautman alerts me to an interesting town hall meeting that took place in Crosby (small town northeast of Houston) last night.

[A] recent Fox-26 news [report] showed that supposedly 1 in every 30 residents in Crosby is a child molester. Turns out the lady who did the report has admitted she went to the “wrong website” to get her statistics but has never really apologized to the community for her error. The truth is more like 1 in 320…and the reporter said she spent 3 months investigating the story. This has the potential to hurt home sales, business development, and morale in this peaceful little town.

I just returned from a town hall meeting in Crosby where the chamber provided information on the stories, retractions, and lack of any real apology from the reporter. These people are really hurting about this story. They feel insulted, cut to the quick, and baffled as to why someone would do this. As a candidate for state representative last year, I became very well acquainted with the people of Crosby and very active in their chamber organization. Crosby is truly Hometown USA and could not be more friendly, down to earth, and family-friendly. They welcomed me with open arms even though I live in Humble.

I guess what I would like to see happen for these folks is a public apology from Fox and the reporter but more than that I would like to see Crosby get its due by showing the caring, community-minded, and collaborative spirit that I see everytime I visit.

Thanks to Diane, I have a copy of the PowerPoint presentation that was used at the meeting last night. I’ll excerpt the main point here:

[Reporter Carolyn] Canville reported that Crosby has a population of some 1700 people, and that there are 63 registered sex offenders living in Crosby, making the ratio of sex offenders to residents approximately one in thirty.

To come up with her numbers, Ms. Canville used different geographic areas for comparison. She took the number of registered sex offenders for the much larger geographic area served by the Crosby zip code, 77532, and compared that number with the total population of the significantly smaller geographical area comprised of an area called Crosby CDP by the Federal Census Bureau (please see the enclosed maps).

The Census Bureau does report the total population of the larger geographic area served by the Crosby zip code, 77532. Had Ms. Canville any interest in reporting the facts, she would have used that number, which is 20,143. However, 63 sex offenders in a population of 20,143 is not nearly as “news-worthy” as 63 sex offenders in a population of 1714. And this is still with using population data from 7 years ago compared to the sex offender registry of 2007, so even those numbers are askew.

In reality, there are 5 registered sex offenders who report residence addresses within the smaller Crosby CDP area. The actual ratio in the smaller Crosby CDP area is 1:343. The actual ratio in the larger Crosby zip code area is 1:320. Nothing near the 1:30 Ms. Canville would have us believe.

There’s more to the story, such as how Canville referred to the registered sex offenders as “sexual predators”, which is an obviously loaded phrase, as well as the fact that FOX26 declined to post a correction on their website, saying that they gave a correction on-air, and besides the story is no longer on their site. It’s interesting stuff, and I’m curious about how this will resolve itself, since the folks in Crosby are not satisfied with the lack of response they have gotten so far. If I get any updates, I’ll post about it.

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One Comment

  1. Norm says:

    More hype and hysteria to boost news ratings. Several facts ought to come into play here: first, not all registered sex offenders are “predators” or “child molesters”. It is in fact quite easy to gain that label, even without there ever being a victim or contact with an individual. Secondly, even if the number was 1 in 30, so what? Most registered sex offenders don’t commit repeat offenses and, more importantly, a child is far more likely to be assaulted by a parent, family member or family friend than by a registered offender. But facts don’t drive ratings or sell newspapers (or get candidates elected). Fear works just fine.